Open and close mobile menu


Insights Why AtkinsRéalis engineering apprentices come out on top.

Ever wonder about the support and opportunities apprentices enjoy with us? Meet Ellie Carter, a talented young professional pursuing a BEng in Civil and Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Warwick. Ellie's innovative work in the water sector has earned her two prestigious awards at the New Civil Engineer's Graduate and Apprentice Awards, 2023—Apprentice of the Year and Outstanding Contribution to Carbon Net Zero!

Photo of Rebecca smiling towards the camera

Ellie, congratulations on your outstanding performance at the NEC Awards. How did you get into civil engineering?

Thank you! I've always enjoyed mathematics and physics—I wanted a career where I could apply their principles to real-world problems. I chose civil engineering because it gives me a direct influence on the world around us, as I vouch for sustainable development as part of the team.

Why AtkinsRéalis?

The organization was offering the degree apprentice programme which appealed to me in terms of getting hands-on experience alongside my university studies. I’ve been really happy with my experience at AtkinsRéalis, working on projects where I can have a sense of purpose.

What advice would you give young individuals considering a career in civil engineering?

I would recommend it. Consider different pathways: apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships, university full-time etc. The degree apprenticeship works really well for me as I like to apply my learning day-to-day. But, full-time university might be a better option for some people.

What kind of work do apprentices do at AtkinsRéalis?

We work on real world projects from day one. The Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA) was one of my first. The project is creating hundreds of kilometres of new pipelines to mitigate the impact of climate change—keeping taps in the driest parts in the UK supplying fresh, clean water. I'm particularly proud of my sustainability work here and it's been a great learning experience!

What responsibilities did you have as an apprentice on this project?

I worked with the design team, and was tasked to develop a digital tool to show how design changes affect carbon footprint, technical aspects, social benefits, and costs. This work required a lot of independent research on carbon management and social value, and gathering data from cost estimates and environmental disciplines. I'm proud to say my tool has already made carbon and cost savings on projects.

"When awarding Ellie the Outstanding Contribution to Carbon Net Zero, the NCE Graduate & Apprentice Awards judges recognized Ellie's passion for decarbonizing construction and her active role in developing exciting new tools."

Besides technical skills, what else did you learn during this experience?

I presented my work several times to different audiences which made me reflect on what information would be most interesting and important to each. It improved my understanding of our business and clients' needs, enhanced my presentation and communication skills, and boosted my ability to use digital dashboards and data visualization tools, like Power BI.

"My presentation skills have developed significantly through this experience, I won the Pipeline Industries Guild PDN Presentation Competition for the North Region before presenting this in their annual conference in May." —Ellie Carter, Civil Engineer Degree Apprentice

What is the support like for apprentices at AtkinsRéalis?

Last year, I worked on a university project where I had to solve a problem from work. I chose to use the program MATLAB to complete flotation calculations for buried pipelines. I made a tool that tells you the least minimum cover to avoid flotation, and it can also create helpful graphs for actual construction sites. Studying while working allows me to receive support and guidance from my colleagues, who are experts in their fields. Through my network at AtkinsRéalis and other joint venture partners, I can again exposure to different areas of civil engineering.

What does winning Apprentice of the Year and the Outstanding Contribution to Carbon Net Zero mean to do?

It's been great to win these awards. It means industry recognition for my work. As a female engineer, sharing my achievements is important to being a role model and showing other women and girls what is possible.

"As winner of Degree Apprentice of the Year, NEC Awards judges were impressed by Ellie's deep understanding of how artificial intelligence can impact the construction industry and her leadership in the projects she's been working on."

As you enter your third year of apprenticeship, how will you continue your advocacy for sustainability and women in engineering?

I always promote apprenticeships and encourage women and girls into engineering careers. I'm a STEM ambassador, which means I participate in STEM events, for primary and high school students. I've found this really rewarding and would like to continue this throughout my apprenticeship and beyond.

I am passionate about sustainability and will enhance my experience in sustainable design, carbon management, and tool development with AtkinsRéalis' Engineering Net Zero Taskforce. I'll keep expanding my knowledge and advocating for sustainable practices, focusing on improving how we manage and measure carbon in design.

We're hiring apprentices. Head to our early careers pages to read more and browse roles.